Sligo will kick-off their 2020 Lidl National League Division 3 campaign this Sunday with a trip to face near neighbours Roscommon.
They have a new management team in place, with Michael Bohan taking the reigns, and they will hope to improve on a league final defeat to Meath last year and seal promotion to Division 2.
Sligo also have a new captain for 2020, as Toulestrane’s Nicola Brennan is given the honour, an honour she thrilled about: “I’m over the moon to have been selected captain for 2020. I’m playing alongside some unbelievably talented players, both older and younger, so it’s a real honour to be chosen to lead them.
“I honestly can’t wait to get stuck in. I’m really hoping I can pull us all together. There’s been some fantastic captains since I joined the team. Even so, I know I’ve big boots to fill, but I’m excited more than anything for the year ahead.”
As for the challenge on Sunday she said: “It’s been very back and forth between ourselves and Roscommon over the last couple of years. I’m confident that we will put in the right performance. We’re ready and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into the game. The players on both sides change every year so it all comes down to what happens on the day.
We’ve no injuries to speak of, we’re training hard and looking after ourselves well with the team in place, so all is good on that front.”
Brennan 30, has been part of the Sligo panel for the last three years and she’s looking forward to what the season will bring: “Every year brings a new level of excitement. You never know what players are going to come into the county panel and looking around at the team, there’s a great mix of youth and experience. We’ve new management too, it’s very exciting to see it all come together.”
Speaking about the new management team Brennan said: “Every manager has their own style and their own way of coaching. He has been brilliant, he has laid down what he wants to do this year, he has told us how he’s going to get it done and it’s up to us now as players to respond. He’s organised and he knows the potential of that team so I’ve no doubt he will be able to get it out of us.
“His guidance is great, and his team are dedicated. He has a local man, Paul Durkin in there coaching, and between the two of them they have all the bases covered so far. You may want to ask him how he plans on coping with us women,” she says with a smile.
While she didn’t play with her county until well into her twenties, Brennan has been involved in the Gaa all her life as she explaims: “I’ve played Gaelic football since I was 6 or 7 years of age. I come from a football house, so inevitably it was a religion. I didn’t know anything else.
“My dad was big into football. He played for Sligo and was still going strong for our club Tourlestrane when I was younger, so he was a huge influence on it. He’s always been a great one to give the analysis after every game whether it’s welcome or not!
“When I was young, he was co-ordinator with the summer camps, so my summers were spent going to different camps in Sligo every week. He retired quite young and went into management, so I was always his sidekick. When you spend your time around it you stick with it and I’m glad I had so much of it when I was younger. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Brennan hopes to pass some of that on: “I do have a 6-year-old daughter so personally I want her to gain a little bit of what I did at her age. Hopefully watching me competing at this level will inspire her as much as it did me when I was younger. It’s so important the example she sees.”
When I asked her about her goals for the year, she said: “I suppose my goals have changed a bit, with me being announced captain the other day. Overall, the main one is just to put in a solid year. Time isn’t exactly on my side and I never took the opportunity to join an inter county team when I was younger, so I just want to make the most out of my time doing it while I still can. Now that I’m captain I obviously want to strive to lead the team on the same goal. I want to give the year everything we can and hopefully pick up some silverware along the way.”
“It would be huge to win a title. For me personally I only joined Sligo a couple weeks before their 2017 Connacht win. I didn’t feel like it was earned as I was just in the door. I haven’t won a title with Sligo yet, knocking on the door all the way but not there just yet. This year obviously more than any other, with me being lucky enough to be captain, so I’m focused on pushing on. Sligo are a side you can never underestimate.”